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DEM-based numerical modelling of runoff and soil erosion processes in the hilly–gully loess regions

Yang, Tao, Xu, Chong-yu, Zhang, Qiang, Yu, Zhongbo, Baron, Alexander, Wang, Xiaoyan, Singh, Vijay P.
Stochastic environmental research and risk assessment 2012 v.26 no.4 pp. 581-597
digital elevation models, equations, loess, mathematical models, planning, runoff, sediment yield, simulation models, soil conservation, soil erosion, watersheds, China, Yellow River
For sake of improving our current understanding on soil erosion processes in the hilly–gully loess regions of the middle Yellow River basin in China, a digital elevation model (DEM)-based runoff and sediment processes simulating model was developed. Infiltration excess runoff theory was used to describe the runoff generation process while a kinematic wave equation was solved using the finite-difference technique to simulate concentration processes on hillslopes. The soil erosion processes were modelled using the particular characteristics of loess slope, gully slope, and groove to characterize the unique features of steep hillslopes and a large variety of gullies based on a number of experiments. The constructed model was calibrated and verified in the Chabagou catchment, located in the middle Yellow River of China and dominated by an extreme soil-erosion rate. Moreover, spatio-temporal characterization of the soil erosion processes in small catchments and in-depth analysis between discharge and sediment concentration for the hyper-concentrated flows were addressed in detail. Thereafter, the calibrated model was applied to the Xingzihe catchment, which is dominated by similar soil erosion processes in the Yellow River basin. Results indicate that the model is capable of simulating runoff and soil erosion processes in such hilly–gully loess regions. The developed model are expected to contribute to further understanding of runoff generation and soil erosion processes in small catchments characterized by steep hillslopes, a large variety of gullies, and hyper-concentrated flow, and will be beneficial to water and soil conservation planning and management for catchments dealing with serious water and soil loss in the Loess Plateau.